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Panthers coach ‘very confident’ Newton starts Sunday

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is listed as probable and expected to start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns — only 12 days after a rollover car accident.

Newton missed last week’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he suffered two fractures to the transverse process in his back. The two-time Pro Bowler returned to practice Wednesday. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson started against the Bucs.

Coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t name a starting quarterback for Sunday.

“We’ll have a good feel tomorrow,” Rivera said Friday.

However, Rivera added, “We feel very confident.”

The Panthers need to win in order to keep alive their slim hopes of winning the NFC South despite a 5-8-1 record.

“It adds another dimension,” Rivera said of Newton’s probable return. “What Cam does is bring that extra dimension and ability to run.”

The Panthers listed seven players on their final injury report for Week 16, with four of them questionable. Those four are linebacker A.J. Klein (ankle), guard Amini Silatolu (knee), running back DeAngelo Williams (hand) and cornerback Carrington Byndom (hamstring).

Newton, safety Roman Harper (thigh) and linebacker Thomas Davis (knee) are listed as probable.

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